Contributor Spotlight: Kyla Hunter
From Burkina Faso to Vietnam, Kyla Hunter has been all over the world with her family of four. Kyla believes in giving her kids the gift of authentic cultural experiences, whether they’re exploring faraway places or their own backyard. Read on to learn more about where they’ve been, where they want to go, and Kyla’s best advice for traveling with kids.
SHE IS A MOM TO...
A 6-year-old girl and a 5-year-old girl.
AND LIVES IN...
Grande Prairie, Alberta.
TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
We are a Canadian family of four: Randy, Kyla, Calais and Kacela. Calais is 6 years old and Kacela is 5 years old.
WHERE DO YOU LIVE AND WHAT DO YOU DO FOR WORK?
We live in a smallish town named Grande Prairie, in Northern Alberta, Canada. I’m an optometrist with my own practice and two very understanding business partners. Randy owns his own financial consulting company.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVEL STYLE?
Our travel style is off the beaten path and on a budget. I often find that the less money we spend while traveling, the better our cultural experience. Typically, the cheaper way to travel is the most local way to travel as well.
OUT OF ALL THE PLACES YOU'VE BEEN WITH YOUR FAMILY, WHICH HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE?
My favourite destination with the kids so far was Vietnam. The food was delicious, the scenery was amazing and it was relatively easy to get around. The people were so welcoming and just loved our girls! It was the first time we really experienced how much traveling with kids provides a connection to the locals that we just don’t get as adult travelers.
I often find the less money we spend while traveling, the better the cultural experience.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE YOU'VE HAD WITH YOUR KIDS?
My favourite travel experience has been visiting the Tata Somba houses (traditional mud houses) in Northern Benin. The Tata Somba houses are slowly being replaced with more modern houses, and the tradition is fading away. It was amazing to see these houses in a location where they’re still thriving, but it’s sad to think that by the time my kids are older they may be gone. I’m glad my kids had the opportunity to see them while they still could.
YOU'VE ALREADY BEEN TO SO MANY PLACES! WHAT'S NEXT ON YOUR FAMILY'S TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
We have a very long bucket list! The pyramids in Egypt and Lalibela in Ethiopia are both pretty high up there. The top of Kacela’s list is Bali, and the top of Calais’ list is Antarctica!
HOW DO YOU DOCUMENT YOUR TRAVELS?
We document our travels on our blog and YouTube channel. I view the blog as my travel journal, and the YouTube videos as the “new family home video” — it’s just better, because they’re edited!
Travel brings us closer together as a family and provides uninterrupted, quality time together.
WHY DO YOU TRAVEL WITH YOUR KIDS?
There are so many different reasons we travel with our kids, beyond just our love of travel. Travel brings us closer as a family and provides uninterrupted, quality time together. It also exposes our children to the world, providing a real understanding of just how lucky we are, and helping them better realize that minor First World problems are just that.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TRAVEL MEMORY FROM YOUR OWN CHILDHOOD?
My favourite travel memory from my childhood is riding the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria. It’s something we did quite frequently when we went to visit my grandparents. The ferry ride in itself was always an adventure, with the sea air, spotting marine life and eating fries with gravy (a family tradition). It also represented anticipation; it was the end of the long car ride and meant we were almost there. Victoria was the first city I really visited as a tourist and was an integral part in developing my wanderlust.
WHAT'S ONE NUGGET OF ADVICE THAT YOU HAVE FOR OTHER PARENTS TRAVELING WITH KIDS?
One nugget of advice I have for other traveling parents is to pace yourself. Traveling with kids is rewarding, but also exhausting! Don’t feel like you have to do it all, and be prepared to leave something out if everyone’s tired. It’s better to do a few fun, meaningful activities, rather than lots of activities with everyone cranky and tired which is not enjoyable for anyone.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TRAVEL QUOTE?
It’s not really a travel quote, but it’s one that we travel by: “Just do it.” Travel with kids isn’t always easy, and sometimes, can be outright daunting. But we tell ourselves to “just do it,” and haven’t regretted it yet!